There will obviously be a few weeks of analysis to follow before the season kicks off, but until then lets look at a few of the price highlights and possible trends that emerge on first glance:
- The rotation strategy is probably in play again this year, though sub-5m options are somewhat limited. Al Habsi (4.5m), Harper (4.5m) and Gordon (4.5m) look like early favourites though Given (5.0m) could justify the extra price assuming he locks down the #1 jersey at Villa.
- With the return to fitness of Ferdinand and Vidic you wouldn't bet against a big season from new boy de Gea (6.5m) who could well prove to be the points leader come year end.
- No one has any idea who will start for City. Despite having the best defence last season, the most expensive players along the back line for City are Lescott (6.5m) and Kolarov (6.5m) though no less than seven players cost 5.5m or more. At 6m, new arrival Clichy looks like a decent bet though even he looks uncertain to play every week right now.
- Man Utd still don't have a right back. With O'Shea and Brown moving up North the situation is at least a little clearer than in prior years with Rafael (5.5m) and Smalling (5.5m) looking to be in a two horse race. If a clear winner emerges they would represent an early steal in this year's game.
- Someone on Chelsea's team is going to be an early must own. You have to assume that Chelsea will settle on a regular back pairing rather than rotating every week. The early front runner would be David Luiz (6.5m) though Alex (6.0m) shouldn't be ruled out. Based on last year's points per game data, Luiz would give a P$ of 0.814 substantially better than most of the other high priced options.
- On first glance the 4.0m pool looks pretty thin though there are options at 4.5m to fill out your squad. Stoke, Sunderland and Bolton players look like potential buys at this price.
- Midfielders seem to be priced on reputation rather than last year's performance. Nani (10.0m), Adam (9.0m), Malouda (10.5m) and Kuyt (10.0m) led all midfielders in total points though only Adam's price has significantly risen. Unless Nani loses significant time to the Young/Valencia combo, it makes it hard to justify not including him in the team at this price.
- Players with high ceilings who are priced at a step below the elite bunch include Walcott (9.0m), Kalou (7.5m) and Adam Johnson (7.5m). Each have questions around regular playing minutes but still delivered excellent value for money last season without too much fanfare.
- The depth in midfield looks as thin as I remember. The options at 5.5m or less look fairly weak. It is going to be tricky to manage your budget this year.
- Seamus Coleman (7.0m), Yuri Zhirkov (6.5m) and Mohammed El-Mohamady (5.5m) have all lost their defensive status and so they become all but worthless for this year. I had marked Coleman down as a potential steal for this year so losing him is a real blow. Vincent Kompany (6.0m) has gone the other way which is somewhat of a boost.
- Javier Hernandez (10.0m) is the early favourite to win the golden boot this season yet his price tag remains considerably below some of the traditional powerhouses. With Tevez (12.0m) presumably on the move and lingering questions about how Drogba (10.5m) and Torres (11.0m) will play together, last year's second half hero Van Persie (12.0m) and the ever reliable Rooney (12.0m) will likely be widely owned.
- The depth up front looks pretty good with a host of intriguing options at the 6.5m range including Fletcher, Ba, Davies, Agbonlahor, Rodallega and Beckford. With a lack of similar depth in midfield, an early developing thought would be to pair a couple of these mid-range options with an elite striker and then load up on higher priced mids.
- An alternative thought suggests investing in the second tier of forwards which includes Suarez (9.5m) and Balotelli (9.0m). It will be tough to pair these with a Van Persie or Rooney, unless you are willing to add a cheap third man or suffer in the middle.
As is the case every year, the possibilities are endless and significantly more work is required before we begin to settle on any players within your squad. That said, it never hurts to try and highlight a couple of players you really like so you are juggling 6 or 7 pieces rather than 11. The analysis is going to start coming thick and fast now so be sure to check back regularly or follow @plfantasy for all the latest news.